Thursday, March 18, 2010

More Cuts

***

There I was typing away at a brilliant piece on the release of Shawn Andrews when my buddy Matt called to tell me the Birds gently nudged Kevin Curtis and Darren Howard from the nest.  By "gently nudged" I mean that Andy Reid told each guy to "hit the bricks, pal".  C'mon Howie and Big Red.  Can't a guy get 5 minutes to type a confusing overly-long player obit before you go and get rid of more dead weight?

Curtis departure is a surprise to no one.  He was terrific when healthy, but just couldn't get back to 100% in the last couple of years.  He was due a big salary this year and that wasn't good for him.  Old, expensive, and fragile is fine in the world of antiques, but not the NFL.  Curtis can hopefully catch on with a team as a slot receiver at a lower salary.  There is still a place for him in the league, but you can't rely on him as a starter. 

Howard had a very good showing in 2008, notching 10 sacks.  He seemed reborn with the primary role of pass-rushing DT.  He was in terrific shape and played like a much younger man.  Darren wasn't the same guy in '09.  He had some good moments and even finished with 6.5 sacks, but he wasn't consistently disruptive like he was in '08.  I think the Eagles saw him as a descending player and decided this was the time to let him go.  Like the old saying says, "Better to let a guy go a year too early rather than a year too late."  If you could guarantee the Eagles Darren would play at his 2009 level they may have kept him around.  With that being uncertain they decided to cut bait and go find a new disruptive force for the interior of the Nickel and Dime units. 

Actually, I'd love for the Eagles to mix in more true DTs in passing situations.  Those guys can push the pocket and clog the middle so that draw plays aren't as effective.  We had major problems with draw plays in 2009.  Several teams killed us at times, most notably Dallas and the Giants. 

We now have Trent Cole, Darryl Tapp, Juqua Parker, and Victor Abiamiri left at DE.  Victor isn't 100%.  That means we need to add some guys in free agency or plan on finding some bodies in the draft.  I'll keep my ear to the ground and let you know what I hear.


RUMOR MILL

Cleveland is talking to the Eagles about Chris Gocong.  Tom Heckert is the man who drafted Chris and Eric Mangini is the coach who coveted Gocong back in the 2006 draft.  Chris actually thought he was going to be a Jet.  He was caught off guard by the Eagles.  We'll see if the teams can agree on compensation.  Word is that the Eagles are hoping for a 4th round pick. 
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22 comments:

Ben said...

It would be great to get a 4th for Chris. Still, I'd like to trade him to Washington for Rocky McIntosh...

I get the gut feeling that we're expecting a lot from this draft class.

Steven said...

I wanted to package him in trade for Derrick Johnson. Oh well. Maybe get Shaun Rogers for him?

Tommy Lawlor said...

This is the only team I've heard about, but I'm sure the Eagles are having talks with other teams.

Myron said...

Chris could be pretty effective in a 3-4. I hope he gets a shot at playing 3-4 OLB, and Cleveland makes more sense than any other team due to the points you listed in your post. Would be nice to get a 3rd or a 4th for him, obviously.

Tommy: Now that they traded for Tapp, is it pretty much a foregone conclusion that the Eagles will *not* be targeting a DE in the 1st round of the draft? I can say goodbye to any hopes of seeing Brandon Graham or Jerry Hughes in an Eagles uniform, and instead will have to settle for a 2nd/3rd/4th round DE prospect?

Dollar Brand said...

One thing that really stands out about the make up of the Eagles is just how young this team is right now. McNabb and Akers have to feel like chaperons at the prom.

@ Myron
The way these past couple off-seasons have unfolded I would tend to feel that nothing in the draft is a foregone conclusion.

Edward said...

@Myron

The fact they cut Howard makes me think DE is still very much a priority if the right player is available. Tapp would fit Howards nickel DT role perfectly as well as rotating at LDE. However there is now no need to reach, or at least less inclination to.

ZackISM said...

Tommy,

We going addition by subtraction? I mean more pieces leaving then coming in. Is our rookie crop guaranteed to be that successful? Are we going to be spoon fed how - Harris, Abiamiri, Fouku, Jordan, Cole, Andrews, and McCoy are going to all take huge steps forward?

Getting pretty far into free agency, and I'm starting to like the team we had entering 2009 better than the team we appear to have entering 2010. Not exactly how it's supposed to work. Maybe you can give us a idea what you think their plan is - as cost cutting seems to be the primary cocern so far.

Donald said...

I heard from a source who would have absolute cause to know that Abiamiri has had another surgery this off-season and until relatively recently was still on crutches. Why haven't the Eagles reported this?

Cliff said...

@ ZackISM

What moves should the Eagles be making right now to make this team better?

Is there something that other teams are doing right now that makes you think we're just sitting on our hands? I look around the league and don't see anything going on.

ZackISM said...

@Cliff

Why cut Kevin Curtis, Will Witherspoon & Darren Howard? Do you have a reason other than financial impact?

You'd be hard pressed to prove that those three players "COST" us games. They were financial moves. One could argue Shawn Andrews - but again, he wasn't even due a penny to hold through traning camp.

Next time Cliff I'll ask you to read my post - didn't say anything about move they should be making. Obviously nothing left two weeks in. Maybe I just don't drink the koolaid like you or I'm not a sheep. I refuse to believe what we have on the roster (even after the draft) is better than what we fielded in 2009.

Sorry Cliff, it's obvious to me, the Eagles front office is concerned about the cap coming back, and is being extremely cap cautious, and not as worried about fielding a contender.

Go spout your Joe Banner love to someone else, everytime you make a point that I respond to you disappear. Good luck my friend.

Brian said...

Hey Tommy, you didn't mention this in your Tapp write-up so I was wondering: is he a guy who could be LDE for downs 1-2 and then move inside like Howard on passing downs? The Eagles could then use Juqua Parker at RDE in those situations.

Tommy Lawlor said...

Zack,

I'm going to answer your question. I'm just in the middle of a few things right now.

Short answer...we're not cutting salary for the sake of saving money. We're letting go of guys that are older and didn't play well late in the year.

The Eagles thought many of these guys would be key in 2009, but they didn't play as well as expected.

The Eagles are willing to pay big bucks to a player, but he's got to earn the money. Kevin couldn't stay healthy. Darren was a descending player. '09 may have been his last really useful season. Time will tell.

Cliff said...

@ ZackISM

Your post implied that the team isn't doing enough to get better. I was curious as to what you think they should be doing right now.

Curtis no longer had a place on this team. Howard would lose snaps to Tapp and Abiamiri. Maybe the loss of depth will hurt us in the long run, but those cuts are logical, reasonable actions. So what if they were about money. What teams wants to pay their 5th WR more than their 1st?

You're not making a new argument. You just keep reiterating the "Eagles are cheap" line. All I wanted is for you to elaborate and tell us what they should be doing now. I guess you think they should have not cut Spoon, Curtis, and Howard? But is that what's keeping us from getting to the SB? Probably not.

Not trying to get personal (this isn't EMB's TATE). Just trying to understand your argument better.

Myron said...

ZackISM: I know the Eagles are very "fiscally careful", but really, there is nothing to complain about so far except possibly missing out on Peppers, and even that wasn't necessarily a top priority given that Peppers is clearly not a sure impact player at 30 with motivational issues in the past, and it would have required blowing the entire free agency budget on him alone to bring him to Philly.

Antrell Rolle is a rather mediocre safety, and I'm glad that the Eagles passed on him and instead now the Giants are saddled with his blown coverages and whiffed tackles.

Aaron Kampmann is a high-risk prospect, and I fully understand why a team wouldn't want to throw guaranteed money at a guy who just came off a mid-season ACL tear.

All the cuts they made so far have been long overdue. Sure they are intending to save money by doing so, but smart organizations realize when players are dead weight and when they are still productive. You'd have to be insane to tell me that they should continue to waste money by keeping players like Kevin Curtis and Shawn Andrews on the roster. Those players will have little to no impact in the NFL ever again, and it is foolish just to keep them around for no reason, no matter how little they are costing (in this case, Curtis and Andrews' salaries were not inconsequential, too).

Cutting Witherspoon might have been questionable, but if they show me that they had a plan in place the whole time by, say, drafting a linebacker in the upper rounds and starting him right away, I will praise the move. Remember that Witherspoon was mostly an average player after the first Redskins game, and the Eagles clearly have other plans for the linebacking corps next year.

Cliff said...

Just read that the Eagles did use something like a "poison pill" in Bell's contract. They inserted a "no-trade clause" to make the Saints less-willing to match.

Myron said...

One last question for Tommy. You're really good at scouting players in college. Could you tell me if it is possible to make a valid comparison to Dwight Freeney for any of the prospects in this year's draft, or any prospects since the 2002 draft?

I'm trying to figure out if Freeney was a really special prospect coming out of college (i.e. truly once a decade kind of player) or if there are others with that kind of skillset. I mean, can you make the case for someone like Brandon Graham being similar in ability, or does he lack the elite speed or burst that Freeney had?

I bring this up because in your Darryl Tapp scouting report you caution people about making comparisons to Freeney simply because Freeney was such a dynamic athlete, and Tapp, while productive in college, didn't have quite the same level of elite physical skills that Freeney did coming out of Syracuse. Can the same be said for alot of the other smaller explosive DEs like Graham and whatnot?

ZackISM said...

@Cliff,

My argument isn't that they are cheap, my argument is that they are being very responsible (to a point of a flaw this off season).

You've said that I constantly harp on this - but I don't think I do - I do think I over-react. I'm sure they have a plan in place - I"m not sure I agree with it.

I can honestly say - I don't think we're buildnig a contender for 2010. I could be wrong, but I don't see it. They are cutting guys who are over-paid and getting older, but they don't exactly have replacements for.

Kevin Curtis, Brian Westbrook, Shawn Andrews - these are moves I understand. Curtis is the 4th WR ont he team, yeah, he's not worth keeping at as the 4th. Westbrook, is done - as much as I hate to say it. And Andrews isn't worth the likely trouble he'd cause.

Will Witherspoon & Darren Howard I do not at all understand. Howard and Witherspoon might not have been worth their contract values, but we don't exactly have replacements in the wings. Abiamiri & Tapp could pan out, but no offense, I'd much rather have cut Howard September 1st - than March 18th. We don't know that Victor or Tapp will make it through the pre season healthy, and we don't know that either is really a proven starter. Basically to me, we're looking at another year of Juqua - not the worst thing in the world, but doesn't scream championship to me.

Witherspoon is much the same. For a team that lost as many LB's as they did last year, to assume that they can let go of at the very least a good depth player, seems funny to me.

Now I know I'll hear how the off season isn't over, but the draft isn't something you can "rely" on year one to make you better. Yes there are rare players that do that (we we're lucky with Jackson, Maclin and McCoy) last few years, but there are no money back guaranteees in the NFL draft. If we pick the DE from Michigan, he isn't a guarantee to get us 10 sacks from LDE....he could jsut as easily be Jerome McDougle or worse.

Lastly I'll say some of my concern is due to the Eagles lack-luster draft history. This is a team that rarely finds stars (been better lately). But we need help at Safety, LB, DE, OL - at a minimum...and I can't think of a "star" or "good" player we're really drafted at any of those spots (unless Stu stays healthy)...

Here's a list of Reid's DE's for those interest:
John Frank, Derrick Burgess, Jerome McDougle, Jamaal Green, Bryan Smith, Victor Abiamiri, Raheem Brock. I may have missed a few, but not exactly a impact player (for the Eagles) in the bunch.

Thrash said...

When you leave Trent Cole off your list of DEs that the Eagles have drafted during the Reid era, it leaves an impression of bias.

Cliff said...

@ ZackISM

I understand that the draft isn't something to rely on for immediate impact (even though we had 2 rookies play significant roles on offense this past season). However, what other option did we have this off-season? That's the question I'm trying to get you to answer.

I agree that I don't understand the Spoon move, but Howard isn't as good as you're giving him credit for. From what I could tell, all of his pressure came from the DT position. Coincidentally, those were the same plays when Dallas was killing us with the draw that we never could seem to stop. Essentially, Abiamiri will take over Howard's role while Tapp and Parker man the LDE position. I feel like Abiamiri will play that DE/DT spot better given his ability to stop the run is better than Howard's.

So, my question still is, what do you think we should be doing to get better? Does having Spoon on the roster really make us all that much better? Remember, Akeem Jordan started last season really hot until his injury.

Cliff said...

@ Tommy

I watched a video of Tapp on PE.com where he said that he "only had 2.5 sacks, but 18 QB hits" last season. He said that was "double what he ever had" and called last season his best despite the low sack total.

What do you think about this? Do you agree that 18 QB hits is impressive? Should this make me feel like he's a more dynamic player than maybe the commin perception is?

Myron said...

"So, my question still is, what do you think we should be doing to get better? Does having Spoon on the roster really make us all that much better? Remember, Akeem Jordan started last season really hot until his injury."

Not only that, but I'm almost certain that they are going to draft a linebacker in the first three rounds. It's not unheard of for a rookie linebacker to make an impact in his first year (Brian Cushing and Clay Matthews just last year, for example). I personally think that somebody like Sean Lee would be amazing in the Eagles system.


"What do you think about this? Do you agree that 18 QB hits is impressive? Should this make me feel like he's a more dynamic player than maybe the commin perception is?"

The most important thing that you have to realize is that he played RDE for Seattle. He's not an elite DE that can consistently beat LTs. But he's probably good enough to beat RTs as a LDE. I'm almost certain that his sack totals will go up as a LDE opposite Trent Cole, and the blitzes the Eagles use will give him plenty more opportunities, also. Tommy listed all of this in his post regarding the signing of Tapp, btw.

And the other thing that you have to understand about Tapp is that one of the primary reasons for signing him is his effectiveness against the run. According to ProFootballFocus, he was the #4 DE against the run last year. (Trent Cole was the #1 DE against the run btw) Tapp plays the run extremely well. Guess what one of the Eagles' weaknesses was last year? Their inability to stop the run from the LDE position. Remember all of those draw plays in the Cowboys games? Tapp should be able to shore up that side a bit better next year, even if he doesn't generate lots of sacks. He should be worth it for that reason alone, imho.

Cliff said...

Yeah, I knew all that about Tapp. I was just caught off guard when he said that he considered last season his best so far.

I like that mentality. To me, it shows that he's thinking about the overall success of the defense and not just getting sacks. Although, when I'm "off," I tend to emphasize my above-average abilities too. Haha.